Religion of Sports, the sports podcast creator and media production company founded by NFL quarterback Tom Brady, filmmaker Gotham Chopra, and former New York Giants defensive end turned “Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan, has a lot more capital to work with when developing new audio projects.
The company says it has raised $50 million in a Series B fundraising round that it plans to use to develop new content, scale up existing projects, and increase its global reach. Religion of Sports recently expanded into the NFT marketplace through a partnership with Autograph to release one-of-a-kind digital collectibles.
"We've seen a growing demand for sports storytelling across media avenues, a demand that Religion of Sports continues to meet, but we're ready and eager to expand into new territories and solidify ourselves as an all-encompassing media powerhouse," said CEO Ameeth Sankaran. "We are excited to expand our mission on a larger scale while enabling our talent partners to tell more expansive versions of their story."
Religion of Sports says the new capital will allow them to capitalize on what it sees as a gap in the marketplace around premium IP, and expansion into new formats, categories, genres, and markets globally. The company says that expansion will also include ventures into non-sports territory, as well as production projects in the realms of entertainment, business and music, seeking to build out the best creator network in the industry.
"Religion of Sports has grown at a pace we could have only dreamed about five years ago," said Brady. "We have some of the most talented people in the industry, who share the same passion for sports storytelling that has an impact on culture and audiences around the world. I am so honored and proud to be part of this team who continue to find ways to push the envelope and rewrite the traditional approach to thought-provoking, meaningful and entertaining content. I look forward to what the future holds for us at Religion of Sports as we continue to expand our slate and pursue more collaborative projects with new partners."
Religion of Sports has already been making a mark in podcasting. Last year it partnered with public radio’s PRX to release False Idol, a series that reexamined the troubled life of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorious. It is part of a broader alliance announced in October 2020 to create podcasts that explore the spiritual dynamics between sports and human achievement. It also led to the release of narrative podcasts including Crushed, which recounted the 1998 MLB Home Run chase and delved deep into the league’s steroid era, and Lost In Sports, a show on a quest to solve sports’ biggest untold mysteries.
Religion of Sports will continue to expand its content slate with upcoming projects including a flagship interview series podcast called In the Moment. Later this year, Religion of Sports will also launch a wellness content brand centered around peak performance.
“Over the years, we've had the privilege of producing many stories, some with athletes themselves, others around the fans and the games themselves, that are anchored in that same core idea -- sports matter,” said Chopra. “Most importantly, countless other talented creators have become a part of our community and taught me so much -- not just in the non-scripted space, but also audio, scripted, social and more. Now with Shamrock aboard, we're poised for even more growth and fun.”
The latest fundraising round was led by Shamrock Capital, the private equity firm that last year raised $1 billion with an eye toward making new investments in the media space. Shamrock has previously invested in Ad Results Media, the Houston advertising and marketing agency, one of podcasting’s biggest champions within advertising and marketing circles. Shamrock also backs the mobile-focused Maple Media which bought Player.FM in April 2020. Shamrock Capital has also invested in companies including the broadcast sports syndicator Learfield Sports and the former radio group Triad Broadcasting, while Shamrock Capital partner Mike LaSalle is also one of the investors in Podchaser, the AI-powered podcast directory.
"As longtime investors in media and entertainment, the concept of great storytelling is often central to our investments," said LaSalle in a statement. "We believe Religion of Sports is a master at crafting narratives about some of the most relevant and universal subject matters today – resilience, competition, mental health and the pursuit of greatness. We couldn't be more excited for the future of Religion of Sports as it continues to expand its storytelling scope across diversified, premium content."
Joining Shamrock in the Religion of Sports round are Elysian Park Ventures, which was part of an earlier $10 million fundraising round, and Cerro Capital.